Eat Wherever: Chole Masala

Fun Update:  I finally got to make some brussels sprouts!  More specifically, the recipe I mentioned in my “I Wanna Eat That” post (bacon, lime, avocado, yum).


Chole Masala

(This is not the best picture ever and only at about the halfway point)



Anyway, I’d like to kick this post off by fulfilling a promise.  I said I would post my fiance’s mom’s Chole Masala recipe, so now I will!  It’s very simple and quite delicious.  It doesn’t require any ingredients from a specialty/international store.  It is vegetarian, and for those who are more used to a traditional American meal where you have a main and a side or two, you may want to make this as a side dish.  We would typically make it as a main and have it with some roti.  That was plenty filling and a joy to DEVOUR : D


To be honest, there are two things that are going to put you off from this recipe initially.



The First Thing


The first is that I have no measurements to provide to you for ANYTHING.  His mom didn’t give us any and it really is true that the majority of real, good, home-style Indian cooking requires you to eyeball, taste, and adjust as you go along.  Measurements, for the most part, don’t really have a place in the typical Indian kitchen.

What does that mean for you?  You’re gonna have to guess and taste and adjust until you get something you like.  In terms of a “best” or a “standard” Chole Masala, the best is the way you like it and the minimum standard is that you have chickpeas (the chole), tomatoes, and salt, lol.  Everything else is up to the chef.  What spices to include, how much, how thick you want your gravy for the chickpeas (which is in direct relation to how many tomatoes you have and how long you let them cook down) is all in your hands.  Wow, such autonomy is scary!

That said, you really really really really CANNOT F**K THIS UP : D

I promise.


The Second Thing


Actually, yes you can.  By not soaking your dried chickpeas (chole) overnight. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT???  But, but that sounds like so much work!  Soaking something overnight!?!??!!?




Before I moved to India, I felt that way.  And in fact, when my fiancé and I made Rajma Masala (Kidney Bean Masala) for my sister and her family, she had the same reaction to the idea of soaking beans (or anything, really) overnight.

Why is this?  Why do we feel like that requires SO MUCH EFFORT?  Well, my theory is that it’s less about effort and more about commitment.  If you soak those beans, then dang it, come tomorrow night, you really oughtn’t change your mind about what you are having for dinner; you are committed.

Yes, you could buy beans in the can.  They are basically presoaked so that you don’t have to wait.  I absolutely do NOT recommend this, not just because it’s immensely cheaper to buy them dried and dried beans pretty much won’t expire (side note:  I guess somebody already beat me to that doomsday preppers cookbook, lol -> The Prepper’s Cookbook) .  The chickpeas are the main component of your dish, or as I like to tell my fiancé, they are what you are going to be chewing on, so you want plenty, like….I don’t know…..4, 5 Cups?  I guess it depends on how many people you are feeding and if you are doing it as a side or a main.



Other That That


You have to taste this recipe as you are making it to know if you are getting it right.

We prefer this with roti, which is like a homemade Indian tortilla.  They aren’t difficult to make, take about as long as rice does to do (unless you are using Minute Rice – ew), and actually serve as your utensil for eating the dish.  You tear the roti, pick up the food with it, and put it in your mouth : D  You can buy rotis at a local Indian market – yes, I am certain you probably have one.  Google it.  I recommend whole-wheat (common) or multi-grain (way less common) for added nutritional value.


You can really substitute any bean under the sun for this recipe – we have and they do.  Black-eyed peas, kidney beans, dried green peas, it’s all the same.


We like to make our own rotis – you can buy any kind of flour and google how to make them (here, I did it for you: Make Roti – I don’t necessarily agree with all of the steps, but I can detail that some other time).


This is what a well-made roti looks like folded in half.

My fiance is responsible for the making and shaping of the dough; i just put it on the pan : D

Roti and Matar Paneer


If you can’t find roti and don’t want to make your own, naan also works; you can also just buy some tortillas from the Mexican food section or some flatbread wraps – same diff.

Finally, EAT AS MUCH AS YOU WAAAAAAAAAAAAANT (within reason).  This is such a healthy recipe.  We use oil with some salted real butter (usually a 1:1 ratio, like 1 TBSP to 1 TBSP); the butter adds some nice flavor and the oil keeps the butter from browning and burning and keeps the pan lubed longer.  The chickpeas are the protein of your dish, and you’ve got tomatoes for your veggies.  Beyond that, you’ve really got nothing making this awesome dish remotely unhealthy.  Just don’t ruin it all by eating 20 rotis – they’ve still got plenty of carbs.



this is because it is really common in India – it’s the oil that is most available for purchase.

  Stop wasting your money at Whole Foods and get friendly with your local Indian grocery store.

  It’s a treasure trove of cheap spices, too.

  (e.g.  $14 at Kroger for a bottle of cardamom, $8 for an amount 5x the size at the Indian store).

Recipe Time!  Thanks, Other Mom!


BTW, my own mom is a baller cook, so I’m sure some of her recipes will end up here, too (Like Italian-style Jalapeno Poppers – NOM).



Dried Chickpeas (Chole) soaked overnight

Fresh ginger

Fresh garlic

Red Onion, chopped (save some aside for adding at the end)

Roma tomatoes




Red Chili Powder

Garam Masala

Rotis or Rice to serve


  1. Boil the chickpeas while prepping everything else.  You really want them to be soft-firm.
  2. Heat oil/butter in a pan and fry onions until golden. Set them aside to cool.
  3. Chop garlic cloves and ginger very very finely or use a food processor to chop nearly to a paste.
  4. Put the fried onions and all tomatoes into a food processor and puree.
  5. Fry the ginger-garlic in the pan for a few seconds (adding oil if needed) and then add the onion-tomato paste. Let simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until the oil starts to separate around the edges.
  6. Add turmeric, salt, and red chili powder and mix.
  7. Add chickpeas and cook for an additional 10 minutes. You may need to add water if it evaporates.  Adding water will allow the mixture to cook without burning and to adjust the consistency to your liking.  For a thicker consistency, keep adding water and letting it cook off so the tomatoes will cook down even further.
  8. Add garam masala and remaining chopped onions.
  9. Serve!


I hope you like this recipe.  We love it.  If you make it, please leave a comment telling me what you thought.  Also, please feel free to ask any questions or seek clarification.  I am definitely not a professional recipe writer, lol.  If you know a particularly delicious variation, or happen to stumble upon one while making this, DEFINTELY let me know ^_^


I guess my stories about Anjuna are going to have to wait again, lol


Bon apetit!



(Me drinking the best cappuccino to date in Goa – Baba’s Wood Cafe in Panaji/Panjim)

Coffee Drinking

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